Bus route on Bri­tish Columbia’s High­way of Tears could be axed

Truro Daily News - - CANADA -

Grey­hound Canada has ap­plied to reg­u­la­tors in Bri­tish Columbia to drop five routes, four of them in north­ern B.C., as the com­pany deals with plung­ing rid­er­ship.

Grey­hound calls the de­ci­sion “re­gret­tably un­avoid­able” in a news re­lease but says there has been a 51 per cent drop in rid­ers since 2010, along with higher costs and in­creased com­pe­ti­tion from pub­licly sub­si­dized ser­vices.

Routes that would be elim­i­nated in­clude a 718-kilo­me­tre run along High­way 16, the so-called High­way of Tears, be­tween Prince Ge­orge and Prince Ru­pert.

Af­ter dozens of mur­ders and dis­ap­pear­ances of women along that high­way, the prov­ince, lo­cal gov­ern­ments and BC Tran­sit launched a sub­si­dized route in June con­nect­ing Burns Lake, Prince Ge­orge and Smithers, mir­ror­ing por­tions of the Grey­hound route.

The com­pany has also ap­plied to drop its routes from Prince Ge­orge to Vale­mount, Prince Ge­orge to Daw­son Creek, Daw­son Creek to White­horse and Vic­to­ria to Nanaimo.

A com­pany spokes­woman says the ap­pli­ca­tion has just been filed with the B.C.’s pas­sen­ger trans­porta­tion branch and no changes will hap­pen this year.

The branch could or­der full pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions as part of its de­ci­sion process.

Se­nior vice-pres­i­dent Stu­art Ken­drick of Grey­hound Canada says if the cuts are ap­proved, they will be dif­fi­cult for com­mu­ni­ties and the com­pany re­grets the ap­pli­ca­tion.

“The sit­u­a­tion has come to a head, how­ever, and de­spite a long-stand­ing se­ries of cor­rec­tive mea­sures and dis­cus­sions with reg­u­la­tory of­fi­cials, the re­al­ity is that we can no longer op­er­ate the un­sus­tain­able routes, and we are propos­ing changes that will make other B.C. routes more vi­able,” Ken­drick says in the re­lease.

The com­pany is con­tin­u­ing its dis­cus­sions with pro­vin­cial and fed­eral of­fi­cials re­gard­ing vi­able op­tions for trans­porta­tion in ru­ral ar­eas, Ken­drick says.

First Nations lead­ers and may­ors pre­vi­ously pushed the gov­ern­ment to fund trans­porta­tion along High­way 16.

The B.C. gov­ern­ment fi­nally came up with a trans­porta­tion plan last year, but only af­ter a decade of ad­vo­cacy and a 2012 re­port from a miss­ing women in­quiry that had com­mis­sioner Wally Op­pal rec­om­mend­ing bus ser­vice along the cor­ri­dor where peo­ple of­ten hitch­hike to get around.

Ser­vice is be­ing rolled out sep­a­rately in var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties and started in Jan­uary with a 30-minute, six-days-a-week shut­tle along a small sec­tion of the high­way, from Morice­town and Smithers.

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